PCT Long-distance Permits #
If you plan on hiking or horseback riding 500 or more miles along the PCT in a single, continuous trip, the Pacific Crest Trail Association can issue you an interagency PCT Long-distance Permit.
Permits help to protect special places.
A PCT Long-distance Permit allows you to travel and camp along the PCT in the many places along the trail that require permits. For long trips, this can be much more convenient than getting permits one by one from each place that requires them.
The Long-distance Permit is free.
Each permit is for one adult. If you are traveling with your children under the age of 18, you may add them to your permit when you apply.
There are limits on the number of permits available #
The U.S. Forest Service authorizes the PCTA to issue the interagency PCT Long-distance Permit on behalf of federal and state agencies to simplify your planning, provide for long-distance travel and improve information about the trail.
To protect the fragile wild areas that you’re wanting to visit, and to protect your opportunity for solitude, the U.S. Forest Service has limited the number of available permits.
Limiting the number of permits helps spread people out and reduces the impact on the trail. Learn more about addressing increased use on the PCT.
The U.S. Forest Service authorizes PCTA to issue the Long-distance Permit with these limits:
- 50 permits per day for northbound trips starting south of Sonora Pass, and no permits for northbound trips starting south of Sonora Pass in the month of June. Additionally, northbound thru-permits are only available from March 1 to May 31.
- 1,400 section permits that overlap the John Muir Trail
- 600 permits starting in the Southern Sierra at these eligible trailheads.
- 15 permits per day for trips starting at or near the Canadian border. Additionally, southbound thru permits are only available from June 15 to July 31.
- 8,000 total permits
For trips that are popular, all of the available permits are usually taken very quickly. You may not be able to get a permit for the trip you were hoping to take. There are lots of ways to get out on the PCT, though! Take a look at this page to see some options for other trips if you weren’t able to get the permit you wanted, or if you want to plan a less-crowded trip.
PCT Long-distance Permit Terms #
By using a PCT Long-distance Permit, you agree to abide by all terms of the permit, and all laws, rules, and regulations which apply to the areas that you pass through on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Some highlighted terms:
- You must start on the start date and at the start location that is listed on your permit.
- You must carry a physical, easily legible, unlaminated paper permit while on trail. You must print this before you start your trip.
- Travel in the Southern Sierra (between Kennedy Meadows South and Sonora Pass) must be continuous with no skips or changes in direction. This travel must be completed within 35 days. If permitholders skip any portion of this section and wish to return later, they must obtain new permits from local land management agencies.
- The long-distance permit does not allow for camping or extended side trips off the PCT corridor.
- Permits are for personal use only and may not be transferred to others. Any resale, transfer or for-profit activity is strictly prohibited and will be subject to immediate cancellation of the permit without notice.
Other permits you may need #
- The California Fire Permit – it doesn’t give you permission to have a campfire. You’ll still only be able to have campfires if and when they’re allowed. But the permit is required in most of California to cook on a camp stove. Oregon and Washington don’t require fire permits.
- In Oregon and Washington, please also fill out permits when you pass by a permit box. This helps us understand how many people are using an area, which in turn, helps us better protect this fragile trail.
- If you’re entering Canada via the PCT, you’ll need a Canada PCT Entry Permit. Note: For 2023, please check the status of the Canadian border for any pandemic-related border closures.
You’re likely to visit places that require extra permits and fees. Campgrounds, park entrances, and other special use fees are not covered by this permit. Please pay the collecting agency directly.